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A Phillies fan has been refused entry to Citizens Bank Park after bringing his emotional support alligator named Wally.
Joie Henney tried to bring in the reptile – which is helping him battle depression and cancer – to the baseball game on Wednesday night.
But the beast was not allowed in to watch the Phillies clinch a nail-biting playoff victory over the Pirates.
Joie Henney attempted to bring in Wally, a companion aiding him in the battles against depression and cancer, to the Phillies game last night
Wally and his owner Henney were denied entry as alligators doesn’t belong to any categories of animals welcomed in the Phillies games
The gator sparked a predictable frenzy on social media with users asking the Phillies to let Wally in
‘Guide dogs, service animals, or service animals in training are welcome. All other animals are prohibited,’ the Phillies’ website said.
Alligators do not belong to any of those categories and could only watch the Phillies take on the Pirates from home.
Henney – a longtime reptile rescuer who has worked with alligators for 30 years – received his rescue pet alligator Wally from Florida in 2015.
He runs several social media accounts documenting the life of his beloved gator.
Although Wally was denied access to the game, it was seen giving out hugs to Phillies fans outside the stadium. Wally sparked a frenzy on social media.
‘@Phillies give this guy a pass, this is the most Philly thing I’ve ever seen,’ one wrote on X, formerly Twitter. ‘Not Wally!! Come on Phillies,’ another wrote.
Phillies fans were amazed by Wally on Wednesday and gave it a pat on the back
Wally was seen giving out hugs to Phillies fans outside the stadium although it was denied access to the game
Henney said Wally is friendly, sweet-natured and enjoys giving hugs.
Wally came into Henney’s life seven years ago as a baby gator when he was removed from a lagoon in Florida due to an overabundance of alligators.
‘There was an overabundance of gators in that area,’ Henney said, further explaining that in Florida, so-called ‘nuisance alligators’ must be either euthanized or transferred into captivity. The two have been inseparable ever since.
‘Wally has been quite different than any alligator I’ve ever dealt with in the past 30 years,’ Henney said to CNN.
‘He doesn’t show anger. He doesn’t show aggression. He hasn’t since the day he was caught. We never could understand why.
‘He’s just loveable. He sleeps with me, steals my pillows, steals my blankets. He’s just awesome.’
Henney registered his pet alligator, Wally, as an emotional support pet in December 2018. Henney likens Wally to a dog and says that the gator just wants to be ‘loved and petted’
Wally was just over a year old when he arrived at Henney’s home in 2015
In 2019, Henney was able to get Wally licensed as an emotional support animal. The gator has provided comfort for him as he has had radiation treatments for cancer.
‘I went through a real hard depression and he brought me out of it,’ Henney has said in a previous interview about Wally. ‘My doctor wanted to give me anti-depression medicine and I refused to take it.’ So instead, Wally has been Henney’s medicine.
Henney claims alligators are easier to train than dogs and he isn’t concerned about the possibility of Wally biting someone.
‘Wally is the only gator I’ve ever been around that refuses to bite,’ he said. ‘It’s mind-boggling — just hard to believe.’
While emotional support pets might not get any special privileges under federal law, Wally is allowed to go almost anywhere with Henney, barring some restaurants that have rejected Wally’s presence supposedly out of fear that the gator could carry salmonella.
Joie Henney, a Philadelphia man and reptile rescuer who has worked with alligators for 30 years, was out for a walk with his pet alligator Wally at Philadelphia’s Love Park last year
Wally the Alligator was walked on a leash by a young girl at Philadelphia’s Love Park
The two were spotted out in Philadelphia’s Love Park last year as bystanders got quite the shock when they had an up-close encounter with Wally the alligator.
Wally was walked on a leash by a young girl, seemed to be trying to beat the heat under the refreshing spray of the fountain.
Wally’s appearance stunned not only bystanders but social media users who later saw the video on WallyGator’s TikTok that has amassed more than 122,000 views.
Most people were in awe of the reptile, while others questioned the safety of the animal walking through the park.
Wally is quite content to be held the way a traditional pet would be held. Henney said that Wally has never bitten him or tried to bite anyone else
Henney takes Wally around to schools and senior centers for educational reasons. Wally is seen here at Pennsylvania’s SpiriTrust Lutheran Village on January 14, 2019
Henney said he originally wanted to see if he could register Wally as a service animal, after discovering his calming effect on people with developmental issues, but settled on registering him as an emotional support animal
Wildlife experts have pushed for new laws banning alligators as pets, since they’re often abandoned when they grow too large for their owners to care for them.
Henney has previously said that he has made to sure to emphasize at his educational gator presentations that alligators do not make good house pets because they are still wild animals.
But he adds that he hopes Wally’s story can help encourage people to ‘be nice to other people’ and hopes he can ‘put a smile on people’s faces — this world is rough enough.’